By Stan Bush
DENVER (CBS4)– Significant delays along RTD’s A Line from Union Station to Denver International Airport frustrated some passengers in the sub-zero temperatures early Thursday morning.
Between the Central Park Boulevard and the 40th and Colorado Boulevard Stations, a rail broke before dawn on Thursday.
Passengers scrambled onto waiting buses or other trains to get to their destinations.
RTD spokesman Nate Currey says it may very well be due to temperatures plunging below zero, “Cold weather, we are looking into it don’t have a definitive answer yet as to why.”
But for those relying on the A Line it meant delays from 20 minutes up to an hour with trains running on a single track in one area.
The B Line to Westminster also had a broken rail, but with much shorter delays around five minutes.
More than 20,000 passengers ride the A Line every day, a figure that far exceeds RTDs expectations. In addition, RTD says over the last four months the A Line has been on time more than 90 percent of the time. But the line’s success has struggled to escape the shadow of a handful of public malfunctions that have shaken public confidence in the system despite its success.
“We recognize that every time there is a glitch like this and it gets covered heavily by media that the question of reliability comes up, and we acknowledge that 100 percent… our number would show that its going well,” says Currey.
Electrical problems stopped a train on an elevated bridge over the summer, forcing passengers to walk off tracks to buses. A lightning strike disabled the line as well.
In November, RTD narrowly avoided shutting down the airport train altogether after faulty software persisted at crossings, requiring manned crossing guards throughout the line. The Federal Railroad Administration granted RTD a 90-day extension to use its operational permit while the problems are resolved.
Fixing RTDs software issues has caused further delays for the roll out of the newest commuter line to Arvada. The G Line was expected to begin operations in the fall of 2016. RTD does not plan to begin a 45-day testing phase on the G Line until the crossing issues are fixed on the A & B Lines. The G Line is not expected to begin operations until the spring of 2017.
“We want to make sure A & B are running well. We don’t want to run G just to be blowing horns in neighborhoods,” says Currey.
Around 4 p.m. Thursday the A Line was reported back to normal operating schedule.